3 Critical IT Challenges to Managing a COVID Workforce. (and solutions!)

It’s not a shock to say that COVID has disrupted the way businesses and their employees are working.

A Gartner survey reveals that 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely some of the time, whilst 47% plan to allow employees to work remotely all of the time.

That being said, this movement has brought on new challenges around the below points:

  1. How to bring a secure and corporate environment to the home.
  2. Managing networks, remotely.
  3. Protecting against increased security vulnerabilities.

So how do you best service these challenges to drive a secure, productive workforce?

The Mission

Around the world, we’re undertaking the task of ensuring that the user experience is a seamless transition to remote working.  Critical work is being done demanding the need for employees to stay connected.  A sudden disruption of internet access can have a significant impact on an organisation, as every second matters, and IT needs to just work.  We want to make sure employees at home have the same simple, secure and reliable network access they get at work.  This will enable them to stay connected with each other through collaboration applications such as MS Teams, WebEx, and have access to office applications such as Office365, without a glitch.

Solutions

1. How to leverage a secure and corporate environment Working From Home (WFH)

With the current state of things, employees have enough to worry about and be distracted by, the last thing a remote worker wants to worry about is the performance of their network connection, or how to configure their VPN.  Providing internet access is highly challenging as the demand for support has increased with entire workforces working remotely.  New ways of working mean that corporate networks are operating in different ways, resulting increases in complex end user issues. Not to mention the headaches caused by managing the security of hundreds or thousands of remote employee connections.

To navigate the difficult terrain of a remote work environment we leverage Cisco Meraki to deliver a single hardware appliance which provides an enterprise VPN Gateway, Router, Firewall, and the latest in wireless performance for high speed access and powerful firewall capabilities ensuring your users can WFH with the best in speeds and security for the businesses that rely on them.

Here are a few key solution features:

  • Designed for all employees, teleworkers, and executives WFH.
  • A secure site-to-site VPN, with end to end encryption, in a few clicks over home broadband services.
  • Remote deployment of services including VoIP, remote endpoints, etc.
  • Seamlessly and securely provide remote network access via Wi-Fi over an encrypted tunnel.
  • Maintain service continuity with cellular backup.
  • Secure wired and wireless access, whilst increasing end-user productivity through Layer 7 traffic shaping.
  • Maintains the corporate network and associated security protection.
  • Maintain flexibility for BYOD or company-issued devices, with easy device management.
  • Perform remote troubleshooting of employee connectivity and applications.

Contact us today if you would like to arrange a call to progress these discussions – hello@cms-group.net or call us on 020 3404 4702.

2. Managing networks, remotely

With travel restrictions, it can be difficult to support staff and networks from other sites (or home), you need a network which is cloud managed, giving you the ability to manage any network in the world, from anywhere in the world.

Through deployment with Cisco Meraki we provide unified management of mobile devices, Macs, PCs, and the entire network from a centralised dashboard.  We can enforce device security policies, deploy software and apps, and perform remote, live troubleshooting on thousands of managed devices.

We make it easy to define and deploy network settings like wireless connectivity, security settings, and remote VPN access to all devices on your network at once.

Layer 7 client fingerprinting technology integrated into all Cisco Meraki products lets you see all the devices on your network, with no configuration required.

3. Protecting against increased security vulnerabilities

With a physically scattered workforce, online attackers have more opportunities to invade and harm an organisation’s users and internal network.  Cyber attackers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and have found new ways of infiltrating an entity’s infrastructure.  As a result of the remote workforce, there has been an increase in email and voice traffic.  According to Netscout, there was an instant 25% to 35% increase in internet traffic since the start of COVID-19.

With this in mind, cyber attackers are using creatively titled COVID-19 emails that seem to be coming from legitimate health sources or pandemic reports.  Similarly, voice and SMS phishing attacks are also on the rise as remote workers use personal devices to hold conference calls or confirm multifactor authentication.  It is a natural tendency for users to open an email or accept a call or text that seems harmless because indications of dangerous content are not obvious.

In terms of providing solutions to combat your security concerns it’s very specific as to the individual setup of your organisation – but usually at a minimum includes the following:

  • MFA, Multi Factor Authentication: another level of account security, supplementing the username and password with another factor that only the specific user has access to on another device.
  • Email Security.
  • Device protection.
  • Machine learning that helps detect cyber-threats using ‘unique DNA’ of your organisation.
  • Staff mobility, hot desking and rotating in and out of the office.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you to combat your security concerns – hello@cms-group.net or call us on 020 3404 4702.

Strategy

There are many solutions which could be considered dependant on your organisations setup and application makeup.  Here at CMS Group we offer consultative strategy workshops where we would initially run a deep dive.  This enables us to work with key business stakeholders to whiteboard your options:

  • Understand your organisations DNA.
  • Understand departmental challenges and frustrations with IT and apps.
  • Understand business objectives.
  • 3 to 5 year strategy roadmap to align IT with business objectives.
  • Align strategy with budgets.

In terms of purchasing options we are very flexible and can cater for outright purchase, 0% finance, lease and As A Service (AAS).

If you would like to explore these subjects in greater detail, we are perfectly suited to advise.  Just last year we were recognised as one of the top 12 growth Meraki partners in Europe.  We are a trusted MSP strategically consulting clients globally on their IT Roadmaps, and we have a wealth of projects in this space which we can share the experience on.

Feel free to reach out team at hello@cms-group.net or call us on 020 3404 4702.

Darcy.Coop@cms-group.net

CMS Group Ltd

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